This is the Hot Rod that my friend and I, Rick, built together in New Zealand. It was beautiful; absolutely perfect.
This is the Hot Rod that my friend and I, Rick, built together in New Zealand. It was beautiful; absolutely perfect.

Here I go I thought: banned before I even get the licence.

1955 Licence to drive

Alastair gets his car and motorbike licences the day he turns 15.

I was driving by the time I was twelve. I used to chauffeur my mother round because it was legal if you were accompanied by a licensed driver back then. If my mother was driving to Hamilton from the countryside I would drive there and back. The day I turned fifteen I got my license. 12th March 1958, there I was ready to go; next day I was back to get my motorbike license. The car test had me sitting next to a traffic policeman. He got in the car and said: ‘Do you know Franklyn?’ I said I knew it. ‘Do you know Aylesly Street?’ I said yeah, sure. He said: ‘Well, take me there.’

I drove carefully across town to Franklyn and he told me to stop outside the hairdressers. He got out the car and went inside and gave his girlfriend, who was one of the hairdressers, a peck on the cheek. He chatted her up for five minutes, got back in the car, and I drove him back to the police station. ‘Yeah you can drive kid,’ he said and walked off.

Then the next day I came back to the police station for my motorbike test. The test was at 10:00am and I was there at 9:45am, ready and waiting. And then at 9:55am I thought: ‘Bugger, I haven’t got 10 shillings.’ That was what it cost to take the test but I didn’t have any cash on me. So I jumped on the bike, roared across town to the nearest place I thought I could borrow 10 shillings, which was the family grocer shop. I knew the grocer well because I lived just down the road and I knew he would give me 10 shillings.

I ran into the shop and said: ‘Hello Mr Frank I need 10 shillings,’ and he took it out the till and put it on the tab. Back on the bike, back to the police station, slammed to a halt and now it was 10:05am. I ran inside saying: ‘Sorry I’m late, sorry I’m late, I had to go and get my 10 shillings.’ And the traffic cop said: ‘Was that you riding the bike?’

I had to admit it. 'Here I go,' I thought, 'banned before I even get the licence.' He said: ‘Where’d you go?’ So I told him I went to Berryls Court to the Grocers shop. He said: ‘When did ya leave?’ 'About 5 to 10.'

‘You can ride the bike kid,’ he said and gave me the licence.

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